Ukraine’s leader Volodymyr Zelenskyy has appealed directly to the Russian people to protest against the Kremlin saying evidence from captured troops shows the invasion was planned.
Urging them not to stay silent, he said it was time to “overcome evil” and insisted it was not just a fight for peace in his country, but their own freedom.
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Mr Zelenskyy made the impassioned plea as the offensive launched by Vladimir Putin against Ukraine entered its 11th day.
The UN says more than 1.5 million refugees have now crossed into neighbouring countries since the onslaught by Russia began.
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Stressing the need for support in a televised address, Mr Zelenskyy said: “We are fighting for our borders.
“We are fighting for our freedom, not to become slaves.
“And this is our choice, but also the nationals of Russian Federation are making their choice as well right now.
“This is the time when we can overcome the evil, when it’s not too late, when you can only lose your job but not go to gulag.
“It’s not too late. Don’t miss your opportunity.”
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He added: “Colleagues and your relatives should be able to hear you.
“We are Ukrainians and we want peace. Russian nationals. This is the fight not just for the peace in Ukraine. This is the fight for your freedom for your life.
“If you stay silent now, then in the future only your poverty will speak on your behalf. Don’t be silent.”
Mr Zelenskyy also pointed to evidence from members of the Russian military taken prisoner that the attack on Ukraine was premeditated.
He said: “Those who were captured, hundreds of Russian soldiers and pilots who were dropping bombs on our cities.
“We heard the evidence. We saw documents, evidence such as maps.
“This is not some improvised war. It is a deliberate, deliberate, pre-determined intention. They planned this war.”
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